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Waiʻanae couple wins lawsuit after decadelong mortgage scam

The Internal Revenue Service says the number of IRS-related phone scams is on the rise.

A Waiʻanae couple has their property back after being the victims of a decadelong mortgage rescue scam.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii obtained a judgment of $1.5 million in fraud fines and penalties, and used the money to help the couple get their property back.

The mortgage scams began in 2011.

Hep Yanez Guinn, also known as Hephzibah Yanez Lusica, solicited the victims with mortgage assistance relief services through her company, HYL Consultants, LLC, the department said in a news release.

The couple hired Guinn to help obtain a loan modification after facing foreclosure.

Guinn had tricked the couple into signing over the deed to their property in order to temporarily make mortgage payments on their behalf, the department said in a news release.

She convinced the couple to pay her a monthly rent to help cover mortgage payments she never actually made. The victims had to foreclose their property again for unpaid loans, according to the department.

Acting under its authority to enforce consumer protection laws, including the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act, OCP intervened in the foreclosure action to hold Guinn accountable for her years of illegal conduct.

“The threat of losing your home is distressing and unfortunately scammers prey on any opportunity to take full advantage,” said Stephen Levins, executive director of OCP. “This judgment sends a message that we will not tolerate bad actors and they will be held accountable for victimizing Hawaiʻi’s consumers.”

The couple won the court case this month, and were awarded more than $62,000 in restitution, and restoration of title to the property.

For homeowners having trouble with paying their mortgage or dealing with their lender or mortgage servicer, find more information at hud.gov.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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